Djokovic and Nadal add another chapter to great rivalry

Reuters  Lucy Nicholson

Reuters Lucy Nicholson

It follows triumphs at Wimbledon and the US Open previous year and has earned him the chance to aim for his second "Djoker slam" - holding all four major titles simultaneously - at the French Open, starting on May 26.

Only Federer's 20 and Nadal's 17 outstrip Djokovic's tally of Grand Slam trophies, but on the strength of the champion's virtuoso performance at Rod Laver Arena, they will be looking nervously over their shoulders.

"Of course, the one that stands out was the final of six hours nearly in 2012".

"Reflecting on what I've been through in the past year, it's quite a phenomenal achievement", said Djokovic after knocking Nadal from the top spot in November.

A few months ago, a swathe of public opinion was influenced by whether Nadal can take over Federer in terms of most Grand Slam singles titles, but now it is safe to say that this is no longer a two-horse race and Djokovic is well and truly a part of that conversation. He is one of just two men to defeat Nadal at the French Open, against 86 wins for the Spaniard, an 11-time champion.

The reason he was less successful, Toni Nadal wrote, was the aggressive game plan he had enacted successfully against the rest of the men's field did not phase Djokovic.

We take a look at the most one-sided - by games - major deciders involving the "Big Four" of Roger Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray.

After raising the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup aloft, Djokovic said American Sampras had inspired him to pick up a racket.

Nadal's take? "An wonderful level of tennis". And his competitive makeover for grass-court tennis - ramping up his serve, altering his footwork and flattening his looping, topspin-heavy groundstrokes - worked to perfection, helping him claim the sport's most prestigious title in 2008 and again in 2010.

"This one is a significant win for so many reasons for Novak".

"It has been very emotional two weeks".

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"Everything is possible in life so that's kind of a philosophy that I have".

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He never looked back after that and Nadal could not break his serve even once during the match.

The second set followed a similar pattern, with Djokovic racing through games on his own serve, while Nadal struggled to hold.

Djokovic has been incredibly consistent in the first two sets, making just four unforced errors to Nadal's 20. The Serbian later tied the set at 2-2, sparking a run of five consecutive set points to win the set.

All business, he then marched back to his seat in silence, without so much as a quiet fist-pump.

Nadal battled on but every piece of magic he produced was outdone by the Serbian sorcerer.

He scrambled in to feather a delicate, sliced drop-shot over the net, raising premature cheers from the crowd as Djokovic swooped on it and sent an even cleverer drop-shot cross-court.

Nadal had marched through the bottom half of the draw without dropping a set for the first time. His record since the beginning of Wimbledon past year is 38-4, and that includes two wins each against Federer and Nadal.

For Nadal, it's a chance to win his second title at Melbourne Park and his 18th major championship.

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